Monthly Archives: August 2017

For the love of poetry…

I’ve concentrated on poetry this week, mostly the creative aspect of the PhD. This has been one of my favourite weeks: a week dedicated to poetry. I have read poetry, written poetry, ate, slept, dreamed poetry. Wonderful.

On Monday I met up with poet friends Polly Atkinson, Hilary Robinson and Rod Whitworth. We went to Proper Tea for lunch–yes they are open again, having undergone a refurb, mostly in the kitchens I’m guessing because the decor hadn’t changed a great deal, still the old doors they have used to make the counter and the settles by the windows. The counter has turned through 90 degrees and is now a chiller cabinet full of gorgeous sandwiches and cakes. We met to celebrate my birthday: someone asked me if I’ve done celebrating now! Silly question! I’ll celebrate this one until I have the next one. Did you know, science has proven that birthdays are good for you? Apparently the more birthdays you have the longer you live. Really.

One of the books I downloaded to my new Kindle this week is The Practice of Poetry by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell. This is a collection of writing prompts that have been used in creative writing classes by poets who also teach. I have been writing to some of the prompts this week, mostly in bed before sleep–which has meant not much sleep because poetry is such an upper! One activity involved thinking of a part of someone’s anatomy and writing about that part as a representation of the whole. I wrote about my mother’s hands. I remember her telling me how she hated her hands when she was a little girl because she had dimples where her knuckles would be and she wanted knuckles like her mother. Of course, when I knew her she had her wish: hands that were Rough-knuckled, raw from hard labour. Be careful what you wish for. I described her hands as she cleaned the eggs ready for market. I quite like the poem from that activity. I have other poems in the pipeline stimulated by some of the other activities too. One of the activities is to do ten minutes of ‘automatic writing’ a day, then after ten days to read the writing and underline what can be kept and perhaps made into a poem. The rule is to write but not to edit, not to read what you’ve written for the full ten days, when you’ll have almost ten pages of writing you don’t know too much about. I’m finding that less satisfactory at the moment, because automatic writing–writing for ten minutes without stopping just what comes into your head–is hard without a prompt to start you off. But I’m persevering, sticking to the rules. I’m giving myself a starting prompt every morning.

Tuesday is one of the days I can give whole-heartedly to PhD work, because Bill plays golf and the house is all mine for the day. I had a great day on Tuesday this week. I decided to write another sestina; but I wanted to bend the form to make it less obviously a sestina. So I decided to compile a list of homophones–words that sound the same but are not necessarily spelled the same, and don’t have the same meanings: ‘there, their and they’re’ is a group that is always used as an example. Would you believe it, there is actually a website dedicated to the homophone: groups of homophonic words arranged alphabetically:
All I had to do was choose ones I thought I could work with. I chose six homophone groups and wrote my sestina. It took all morning: who knew poetry was such a long job! I have worked on it all week, trimming it, refining it. Because it has words like based/baste and cord/chord/cored with variations like record/accord/discord it really is a sestina in disguise, I think. It will fit in the portfolio, although the ‘story’ of the poem is entirely fictitious. I’m really quite pleased with it. A good morning’s work.

On Thursday my copy of Pascale Petit’s Mama Amazonica arrived in the post. On Saturday Bill played golf again so I had another day dedicated to PhD. I gave it over mainly to reading Mama. I read the whole collection in one sitting: I couldn’t put it down. It is a collection that deals with the mother-daughter relationship through the mental illness of the mother, much as The Huntress does, but in a way more sympathetic to the mother, I think. I read it aloud to myself, the whole collection. I had a very rusty voice afterwards; but reading a poem aloud does slow your reading down and it gives you a different perspective on the work. I can’t wait to get down to a serious analysis now. Petit has such a creative way of writing: humming birds feature largely, beautiful and abused in this collection, as the mother has been. The animals of the Amazon region are used as metaphors for the people and personalities in the poems; for instance the abusive father is often depicted as a scarab beetle. In ‘Jaguar Girl’, ‘Her gaze is tipped with curare/…/Her claws are crescent moons/sharpened on lightning./…/Her own tongue is a hive/that stings’: wonderful images for a fearful and frightening woman. Compare this with the tense tenderness in ‘Jaguar Mama’: ‘…the whirlpools and rocks of her tongue/almost pulled my skin off, I never knew/if she was grooming or preparing to eat me.’ I love this collection. I think a comparison of the two works will be an exciting and original part of my thesis.

On Saturday I also did some submitting to competitions. I’m not good at submitting work, I don’t do it enough. I’m never sure when a poem is ready to make its way in the world; there always seems to be some small change you can make. But I sent some out on Saturday to try to earn their living. Given that most of the best competitions receive well over a thousand entries, I’m realistic about their chances; but, as the early lottery adverts used to say, ‘you gotta be in it to win it’; so I sent off to Oxford Brookes and Buzzwords on Saturday. Online entries are so easy; too easy perhaps. Now I need to sort my poems out for sending to journals; prepare myself for the inevitable rejections that make the occasional acceptance more sweet.

Later today, more poetry. I have to reread Hilary’s MA portfolio so that we can discuss it when I meet her on Monday before the Leaf Workshop. I’m honoured that she has asked me to read and comment before her final submission in a couple of weeks time. Her collection  addresses marital infidelity and reconciliation: it’s a good read. I also have to read a selection of Gwen Harwood’s poems for our Stanza meeting on Tuesday evening. So, plenty of poetry to keep me going for a day or two; as well as the daily ‘automatic writing’ and my promise to myself to write a poem a day while I’m on holiday. Yes, we fly to Zakinthos on Thursday for two weeks of sun, sea, reading, boules, bumming out. I intend to get lots of work done in that two weeks; the best kind of busman’s holiday! I’ll be blogging from the Ionian region next Sunday; bring it on.

In honour of the upcoming holiday, I’ll post a poem I wrote in Zakinthos two or three years ago. There seems to be some seismic activity in the Mediterranean area at the moment: this week there was an earthquake on the island of Ischia in the bay of Naples; in July an earthquake between Turkey and the Greek island of Kos. When we were on holiday on Zakinthos–2014 I think–there was an earthquake that was strong enough to move furniture across the room and make waves on the hotel swimming pool. No structural damage, but it was quite a scary event none-the-less. What struck me most was the noise: a loud boom like a bomb to begin with then the dreadful grinding sound as the earth’s tectonic plates rubbed against each other. This is the poem I wrote from that experience:


Koukounaria Quake

mobile phone footage of lanterns swinging,
floors flapping like tablecloths being shaken
of crumbs, windows spitting out their glass,
cars like Dinky toys tossed by a petulant child,
fissures in roads that swallow juggernauts whole:
this is an earthquake.

But a mobile phone can’t record the noise,
as if the earth were turning in her sleep,
dropping her bedtime read to the floor, breaking
wind. She grinds her teeth and the hotel shifts
and the wardrobe slides across the bedroom
and ripples ride on coffee mugs and coffee
slops onto tables and tables walk the floor
and the swimming pool gets the surf up
and tourists, not used to this, make to leave
the safety of structures built to withstand it.

Eleni checks on her pregnant daughter, the earth
settles to sleep again and all three carry on
as if something extraordinary didn’t just happen.

Rachel Davies



Didn’t we have a loverly time…

In three years where life is driven by work towards a PhD, sometimes the work has to take a back seat, be a passenger; and that’s what happened this week. For the first time in two years, PhD hasn’t been the be all and end all of my existence. It has been there, keeping its eye on me, ready to rebuke me for slacking, but life has been to the fore.

This year my daughter Amie and I had ‘significant’ birthdays; so we hired a cottage overlooking the beach in Trearddur Bay, Anglesey and took our 120th birthday celebrations on tour. Richard and Michael, my two sons; Amie, Angus, Ben and the dogs; and Bill and I had a few days of doing nothing but being together. It was lovely. It was  five days of very nearly doing things: we nearly took the ferry to Dublin, but it was fully booked; we nearly took the cable car to the summit of Great Orme, but high winds put a stop to that; we nearly took the railway to the summit of Snowdon, but on the day we wanted to go there were no tickets; I nearly did some reading, but my Kindle battery died. Despite all this, we had a lovely time. It’s so good to spend time together, it doesn’t happen often enough when your children become adults. We did manage to do a lot of dog walking though. Amie has two cockerpoos, Cooper and Sonny, and they are energetic to say the least. They chased that ball over most of Anglesey, and still asked for more. Oh, another nearly: we decided to go to Aberffraw for a circular walk we had found in the cottage info pack. Ten minutes into the walk the high winds that prevented us from using the cable car in Llandudno the day before whipped up the sand from the beach and pebble dashed the backs of our legs and other exposed skin. We turned back to the cars and drove on to Bangor, where we had al fresco coffee while we watched unoccupied chairs blow off up the street!

I did manage some reading, though. I used the Kindle until the battery died completely. I was blaming the cheap charger I bought but I borrowed Michael’s charger and it just wouldn’t make a charge at all. No Kindle, and another holiday coming up in two weeks? I decided to order a new one when I got home so I can still pack a library in my hand luggage. I’ve learned that I can get a battery replacement for the old one as well, so I might look into that. But it’s a delicate operation, apparently, easy to mess up. I’ll take it to an official repair outlet sometime. Thankfully I took a ‘real’ book away, as well as my Kindle. Toril Moi’s Sexual Textual Politics in paperback was my reading-in-bed book this week. I was reading a chapter about Gilbert and Gubar’s Madwoman… It was interesting to get an academic review of the book I read only recently. I took my MacBook on holiday as well, thinking I might get some creative work done, but the house was full to overflowing; there was never space to sit and work apart from in bed and I’m quite particular about conditions for writing. I have to be on my own, have silence, get my thoughts filling the house. I could have done some work in bed, but I know it wouldn’t have been good work and I would have just rolled it into virtual balls and binned it when I got home anyway: we have to pay attention to our own preferences for work, I think. So I made do with a bit of bedtime reading. I hope the PhD doesn’t mind that I ignored it this week. It was good to have the best part of a week off. I’ll be on it again next week; and the upcoming holiday will involve a lot of work as well.

The world stage is as worrying as ever. We live on a speck of dust in an infinite universe. There are millions, trillions–zintillions–of other planets, stars, heavenly bodies out there, some with the potential for life, some, no doubt, hosting life in one form or another. But humans have such ego trips about being made ‘in the image of God’; about human life being the epitome of life forms. And oh my, we are so full of hate: my skin is better than your skin; my nationality is supreme; my god is more powerful than your god. Why? We are here for the blink of an eye; we are nothing in the great scheme of history. My grand-daughter Corrinna was in Barcelona when that van rammed into crowded Las Ramblas. Thankfully, I learned she was at the airport for the homeward journey when the atrocity happened. Unfortunately many holiday makers weren’t: collateral damage in ‘the war on terror’. No-one in power has worked out you can’t make war against an idea: an idea isn’t an enemy you can target. This is a war that can’t be won. And this week the most powerful man on the planet refused to condemn alt-right white supremacists carrying Nazi and KKK flags in Charlottesville into skirmishes with civil rights protesters; thereby reinforcing a global view of the US president as a white supremacist, Nazi and KKK sympathiser. What a pernicious world we’re living in.

This morning I’m posting a poem I wrote in Carrie Etter’s Napowrimo week in April. It is about the month my brother died; a month that was also dominated by powerful men flexing their international muscles, sizing each other up. We never learn from history; we just invent bigger and more destructive ways of killing each other. I only had one brother, in a house filled with sisters, so this was a pivotal month in my growing up. I was fourteen at the time.


June 1962

that was the month
Albert and Harold first hauled their rags on BBC TV

and George Martin unleashed Beatlemania

I sat in the library at the grammar school reading
about a Wall dividing Berlin to keep communism pure;
or to keep capitalism pure; or more likely to keep propaganda
pure; but people didn’t want purity they wanted their lost families
and they staked their own lives to be reunited on the other side

Khrushchev sent missiles to Cuba while the world held its breath
and even Peter Parker, bitten by that radioactive spider,
no, even Spiderman himself couldn’t sort that one out

the Foreign Legion left Algeria for the last time
but Algerians kept long memories of their occupation

Marilyn was fired by 20th Century Fox for not turning up
and no-one seemed to notice that her world was falling apart
and she’d begun that sad descent to her infamous nude scene
in that hotel room; and I wonder if you ever met her

because that was the month you went into Stoke Mandeville Hospital
and I never saw you again.

Rachel Davies
April 2017






Blood and more blood…

I started to write this blogspot to see how a PhD would elbow its way into my life: what it would nudge out of the way to make its space. I’m reminded this week that, in the end, completion may not be negotiable. The week has been dominated by frightening global events as two playground bullies square up to each other across the wide Pacific. Trump has been using hyperbolic phrases like ‘locked and loaded’, ‘…the likes of which the world has never seen’ and ‘fire and fury’–which one American local newspaper reported as ‘fire and furry’: typo or satire? The trouble with playground bullies is they don’t back down until they have bloody noses, and the bloody noses of this scenario will make a world-wide mess. I was fifteen at the time of the Cuban missile crisis and I remember well how a frightened world held its breath; and the crisis then was handled by men who understood the power of diplomacy. Trump and Kim only seem to understand ‘my bomb’s bigger than your bomb’; so perhaps we’re all f****d. Let’s hope someone with influence somewhere has a bit more foresight than them. We live on such a beautiful planet, that we seem bent on destroying. Here’s a picture I took from my bedroom window at 5.00 a.m. this morning. I was struck by the mist hanging in the Tame Valley: autumn is just around the corner I’m afraid; and we haven’t even had a summer yet!


Anyway, I plod one, tending my own garden as Candide advised. I’m beginning to have more flowers than weeds at last, I think. I have finished the analysis of Pascale Petit’s ‘The Huntress’ this week all ready for the section I’ll write later in the autumn. A daughter speaker tells of her relationship with her mentally ill mother: ‘Like Cortés, I found her monstrous’, she writes in the poem ‘Portrait of My Mother as Coatlicue’, pronounced Koh-at-lee-kway meaning ‘serpent skin’; this is the frightening Earth Mother Goddess, her head, decapitated by her own offspring, replaced by two serpent heads. That first line of the poem pretty much sums up the relationship between mother and daughter in the whole collection. I can’t wait for Mama Amazonica to arrive later in the autumn. Alongside this, I continue to read and take notes on Jessica Benjamin’s The Bonds of Love for the critical aspect. I can see how that relates directly to Pascale Petit’s poetry: I can see where I’m going with it.

I also did some work on the creative aspect: I’ve vowed to give that more space as it carries the weight of the thesis. I revisited the sestina I posted here last week, trimmed it considerably, making it less of a baseball bat: much more subtle than the baseball bat I felt it was last week. I like it. I’ll leave it alone for a few weeks now before I come back to see if I still like it after a break. I’ve started to edit some of the other poems in the portfolio that I’m not happy with too. This is my favourite thing: to take a rough first draft and model it like clay until I have a product I can live with. It’s the making of something worthwhile; without creativity, what are we? I find my creativity in words.

On Wednesday evening Bill and I went to Oldham Odeon to see the live screening of Titus Andronicus, one of Shakespeare’s plays I didn’t know at all. I went expecting to see a Roman history, and it sort of was; but oh, it was so much more that I didn’t expect. It is bloody and bizarre: bloody bizarre!  Rape, intrigue, limbs lopped off in the name of justice, enforced cannibalism; and so much blood shed, you have to wonder how they all stay alive. And it still managed to be funny in places as well: as I said, bizarre! Shakespeare must have been on something when he wrote this one. But it was wonderful for all that; David Troughton in the lead role was brilliant.

In other news, I sent out my Poetry Society Stanza mailing this week. We meet again on August 29th, 7.30-9.30 at the Britannia Inn in Mossley, when we are going to read and discuss the poetry of Australian poet and librettist Gwen Harwood. You can find some of her work here:
Come along if you’re in the area, you’ll be very welcome.

And in other other news, my granddaughter, Corinna, completed her nursing degree this month and on Monday she managed to land a staff nurse post in Telford Hospital, so that was reward for three years of hard work. She’s been a single parent for much of that time as well, and I’m so proud of what she’s achieved.  And Bill had his last appointment at the hospital: he was discharged on Monday after ten years. He had radical surgery for prostate cancer ten years ago and on Monday that phase of his life came to a happy conclusion when he was discharged into the continuing scrutiny of his GP; so that was some really good news.

That’s it then, another rewarding week. I’m sure you know that July 31st was the centenary of the start of the Battle of Passchendaele in the first world war. It seems appropriate to remember that this week, with the playground bullies doing their worst. So for a change, this week I’m going to post a poem by Isaac Rosenberg to remind us all of the reality of war. It isn’t glorious, it isn’t victory at any cost. It is just too high a cost. We wear the poppy for remembrance, but we don’t remember. Not really. If we did, we wouldn’t still be making war. Rosenberg fought at Passchendaele, so he understands absolutely. The ‘queer sardonic rat’ has more chance of life than the ‘haughty athletes/…bonds to the whims of murder’. As long as the playground bullies remember that themselves, just keep pulling faces across the ocean and don’t resort to pressing buttons, we’ll all get through this. We will.

Break of Day in the Trenches

The darkness crumbles away.
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat,
As I pull the parapet’s poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies.
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver–what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in men’s veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe–
Just a little white with the dust.

Isaac Rosenberg




The Best Job I’ve Ever Had

I heard this week of a man who is due to retire from Sainsbury at the age of 95. Reg Buttress first retired from his job at the Cwmbran supermarket when he was 65. That retirement lasted for six weeks, by which time he was so bored, he asked for his job back. He retires again next month. The thing is, when I googled this story, I learned that Reg isn’t the only one. In March this year, for instance, Kathleen Privett retired from her hairdressing job aged 93. These are commendable stories that show how keeping busy is good for your health. But if retiring at 90+ becomes a trend the government might feel justified in adjusting its state-pension-age policy significantly upwards: retirement at 68 might well look like a luxury of idleness.

I was a primary school headteacher in my past life. I retired fourteen years ago and the lovely teachers’ pension I earn every month is compensation for accepting a lower salary than I could have earned in a comparable management stratum in the private sector. Teaching was hard, rewarding work, I loved it. I loved being a headteacher. I’ve also done some nursing in my life, packed purchases in Freeman’s Mail Order, been first aider in a carrot canning factory, worked as a check-out girl in a cash and carry, picked broad beans on a Fenland farm. Without a doubt, retirement is the best job I’ve ever had. Boredom, as Reg experienced, has never been an issue for me. Since I retired I’ve completed a BA (Hons) Literature with the OU; done an MA in Creative Writing and am now working towards PhD from MMU. I have written poetry, read poetry, been on countless poetry retreats, published some poetry, won some poetry competitions. I have travelled to Australia on two occasions where I watched the one-day international cricket series, drove the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Adelaide, took a train trip to the Blue mountains and twice went to the Sydney Opera House for performances of Carmen and Sweeney Todd respectively. I’ve visited Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Cape Town. On top of this, I have done the books at Amie’s Black Ladd restaurant every week for more than ten years. I couldn’t have done any of these things if I’d still been working. Reg, boredom is only an issue if you let it be. And I’ve known too many people who have died within months of retiring, their bodies unable to cope with the change of pace. Thankfully, my health hasn’t let me down–not too badly at least. For me, retirement is a privileged age when I get to do the things I dreamed of doing while I was paying my taxes and NI to fund it. I’ve never been busier.

This week has been all about poetry, most of it PhD related. On Monday it was the writing workshop at Leaf. Despite Metrolink’s best efforts to thwart the plan, Hilary and I were there. A points failure at Newton Heath resulted in delays on the way in, and that is where the tram ended its homeward journey. We made the trip home via Ashton-u-Lyne instead, where Bill met us, bless him. On Sunday I spent the morning revisiting some of my portfolio of poems. I have a poem about motherhood that I’ve never been entirely happy with: it is a big block of text, is a bit cheesy and not a little gender stereotyped. I had written on it at a previous revisit, Would this make a sestina?  In case you don’t know–and excuse me if you do–a sestina is a poetry form of six six-line stanzas and a three line last stanza. Each of the six stanzas uses the same six end words in a varying order and the six end words appear, two in each line of the tercet at the end. So I decided to give it a go. I chose my six end words from the original poem and composed a sestina. It wasn’t the sestina I meant to write, but it was a sestina non-the-less. The end words sort of dictated what it became about. It’s still about mothers and daughters so will possibly be included in the portfolio; it still needs lots of work before it earns its place though. I took it along to Leaf on Monday evening and received some really useful feedback. At the moment the repetitions driven by the end words are a bit like sledge hammers; I need to make them much more subtle. But it is there to be worked on.

On Tuesday I spent the most wonderful day analysing Pascale Petit’s The Huntress for the critical element of the PhD. What a collection that is, addressing the mental illness of the speaker’s mother, linked to domestic and sexual abuse and all woven as a collection with Petit’s visits for research to the Amazon Rain Forest. I love it. The mother is a frightening and threatening woman, depicted variously as poisonous snakes, Aztec gods of death and destruction, a Tibetan singing bowl. Alongside my analysis, I was doing internet searches to clarify all the references to Amazonian myths, gods/goddesses, flora and fauna: I learned so much. After a morning’s work I’d analysed only about eight of the poems in the collection and have the start of a framework for the next chapter of the thesis. I was so engrossed I even forgot to stop for lunch, which hasn’t been known often. I have preordered her new collection, Mama Amazonica, due out in the autumn. It deals with similar issues in a similar way, so I’m interested to see how she makes it new. It is published by Bloodaxe and is Poetry Book Society autumn choice.

On Thursday, Bill and I went into Manchester together. I wanted to spend the M&S gift card my sister very kindly gave me for my birthday. Sad to say, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to buy. I’m not surprised they are struggling for profit at the moment. Frankly, the displays are boring, the merchandise lacks flair. One dress, a light cotton floaty thing which was quite nice but ‘not me’ was displayed on a mannequin; and even ‘she’ looked bored. Her shoulders sagged and it’s no exaggeration to say the dress hung like a limp rag: who could think anyone would be encouraged to buy that from such an unattractive display? Perhaps I should go in and ask for a job? Well I would, but I don’t have time! We also went into Waterstones to spend a gift card I had for Christmas. I was saving it for Mama Amazonica, but I ordered it online from the Poetry Book Society, so I had a lovely half hour browsing the poetry section before settling on Alice Oswald’s Falling Awake and an anthology of three poets, including Kathryn Maris. I also bought a quirky bookmark in the shape of a stuffed pig: my Chinese horoscope sign. We went for a bite at Proper Tea only to find it closed down. Thankfully, I’ve learned since it’s only a temporary closure for refurb; so hopefully I’ll get a fix of their lovely caraway seeded Polish rye bread toast soon.

On Saturday I was at my desk again for 8.00 a.m. analysing some more Pascale Petit. I broke off at 10.00 to meet Hilary for coffee in Albion Farmshop and went back to my books when I got home about 11.30. I worked until 2.00; so now I have about 6000 words of analysis and still only about half way through the collection, with Mama Amazonica still to readIt won’t go into the thesis as it stands, but I’ll be able to use a substantial part  of it as cut and paste.

That’s it then; another week done and dusted. I’ve enjoyed it, been busy, learned loads, done some shopping. A good week all round.

I’ll give you a sneaky peak at the sestina this week. I’m not happy with it yet, not by a long chalk, but it’ll give you an idea of the sestina form and you’ll see where I’m going with it. I need to disguise the end words more, and revisit the repetitions that hit you round the head like a baseball bat at the moment; but remember I only wrote it on Sunday morning so it’s still only foetal at best. It’ll grow old gracefully as I work on it. In its favour, it does have some good lines, I think, well worth keeping.


This is not really a poem about grandmothers

 it’s more a cautionary tale about mothers.
Mine wasn’t one to hold her babies close.
She never saw herself as a repository of history.
She was no story-teller and lost histories can change
who we think we are. How can we know
ourselves if our story isn’t roused from its troubled sleep?

Some mothers tell bedtime stories to encourage sleep.
I don’t remember ever sitting on my mother’s
knee for a story, so I never got to know
my lost grandmothers. I had to make them up, close
approximations to an ideal: stories are loose change
In the trouser pockets of our history.

Who we are is indelibly imprinted by our histories.
We can’t ever know ourselves if we sleep-
walk through life, half plotted. A story can change
who we are, where we’re from. Mother
kept her stories wrapped in the closed
shroud of memory, never passed them on. I knew

my grandmothers as shadows, women I didn’t know
I missed until I was a grandmother myself. History
should be passed down the generations. Don’t close
the door on it, instead feel its draft. Sleep
in peace knowing I think of you, Grandmother,
more now than I ever did as a child. That changed

when I became a grandmother; now it’s time to change
trajectories. I’ll make sure my children know
every story I never heard from my mother.
I’ll invent our story myself—we all know history
is owned by the woman with the pen. So sleep
knowing your dreams won’t be wasted. Close

to my long night closing
in, I’ll exchange
our lost history for folk tales. I won’t sleep
until my grandchildren’s grandchildren know
their place in history.
What I can’t know I’ll invent. My un-storied mother

put the past to sleep in a crypt that’s still closed.
Not me. I’ll be Mother Almighty. I’ll change
history. They’ll know me best by the tales I weave.


Rachel Davies
July 2017